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System-wide health sector reform on the agenda for medical leaders

Ahead of the meeting, the AMA released its pre-budget submissions on public hospitals and general practice, together with a submission proposing changes to address the current workforce crisis.  

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said Australia had one of the best health systems in the world, but it was now under extraordinary pressure in many areas.  

“Today’s meeting provides an opportunity for college and association leaders to get together and discuss in detail the issues facing our health system, including in our public hospitals, the private health sector and with our workforce,” Professor Robson said.  

The immense knowledge and understanding of the health system that these leaders bring to discussions today can play a significant role in guiding future policy and reform to improve access and outcomes for our patients. 

“We know that our public hospitals are in logjam, with patients waiting sometimes years just to see a specialist and get on a waiting list for elective surgery; let alone the wait for surgery,” Professor Robson said.  

“Meanwhile, everyone, including Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler, who will speak at the meeting, acknowledges the health workforce shortages facing the country, with access and lack of planning continuing to be a problem.”  

Professor Robson said the federal government’s significant investments in health over the last year were very welcome but there was more to done.  

“The AMA acknowledge the investments of the past year in primary care and National Cabinet’s announcement late last year on hospital funding and reforms to the funding growth cap. 

“The acknowledgement that the National Hospital Funding Agreement needs reform, and the funding injection were very welcome, but the next agreement doesn’t come into effect until 2025. What we are calling for in our budget submission is an urgent injection of funds to address the issues in our public hospitals today.”  

Workforce issues will also be discussed at the meeting, with the AMA’s budget submission calling for an independent agency to be established that can provide evidence-based solutions to address workforce maldistribution and shortages.  

“A National Health Workforce Planning Agency would ensure that Australia has a health workforce with the right skills, in the right locations to meet future community needs and demand,” Professor Robson said.  

Reform of the private health system is also on the agenda, with the AMA’s pre-budget submission calling for an independent Private Health System Authority to oversee the sector and create a platform for reform. 

Taken from the AMA Media Release on March 18, 2024

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